Devoxx Poland 2019

It was the second time I was visiting Devoxx. This time in Krakow. The first time it was Antwerp and I liked it a lot.

One of the main worries I had before the conference was related to the changes in the way I approach day-to-day work. I’ve started paying more attention to people rather than technologies. Also, I’ve finally understood that lack of diverse knowledge prevents me from being a more efficient engineer. So I was looking for opportunities to improve the following areas:

  1. Intercommunication skills. This first one is a real problem for introverts like me. Introverts and extroverts are usually separated by whether you lose energy from communication or you gain it. So it was really important for me to find those boundaries between socialization and needs of my personality. I was traveling with the guys I work with daily and respect a lot. However, every trip in a group is sort of a challenge for relationships. You can either spoil these or make stronger. Maintaining the status quo is almost impossible. One of the important aspects here was to get out of the shell and start providing direct feedback to the speakers.
  2. Frontend. I was trying to skip this area for a while. And this decision was far from ideal. I need to learn a lot in the limited time frame at the moment. I also have a need to ramp up on the architectural decisions made for the modern UI frameworks.
  3. Microframeworks. We’re using our own stack at Fitbit and like any real non-hello-world tool it has its own problems. So it was pretty interesting to have a look at possible alternatives and possibly learn from them.
  4. Relax. I expected Krakow to be an amazing place. Having a four-day trip is not only a good chance to see something new around you. Having morning runs when all tourists are still asleep is an amazing way to get acquainted with any city. It’s also an interesting opportunity to get away from daily problems and have a 30,000 feet view on your life as a whole.

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Flight to Krakow itself was slightly nervous due to the delays. However, eventually, we got out of the plane on Saturday evening and got a chance to start enjoying Krakow. It’s beautiful and crowdy. We could barely find a place to seat Saturday night. The same happened Sunday afternoon. Too many tourists like us. Still, Krakow is gorgeous. Beautiful river, amazing old buildings and castles, friendly people all over the place.

We also decided to register for the conference in advance not to spend too much time in the queues Monday morning. And it appears to be a pretty good idea. And Devoxx Poland 2019 began for us.

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Monday

The first thing I’ve noticed was the level of organization in terms of food. All four floors were full of beverages and food. This kind of abundance lasted for the whole conference. Special thanks to organizers for separating out vegetarian buffets for lunch. Queues were way smaller there. Food was pretty good and the coffee was endless.

Lots of interesting booths where you can talk on various topics and get some loot. The amount of marketing and sponsorship support of the conference is impressive. I haven’t seen anything like this during the last times I’ve visited Java conferences in Belarus/Ukraine/Russia.

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So let’s begin with talks.

I didn’t find keynotes topics particularly interesting and I’ll be mostly concentrating on the talks I found useful for myself. The first talk I visited was:

Micro Frontends – a Strive for Fully Verticalized Systems

I had no idea what it is all about. I was pretty heads low the last year and it was a good chance for me to get into the topic. And the talk was amazing. It described basic concepts, provided analogies. It can be used as a map of the landscape of the current state of micro-frontends. It was really worth visiting. I didn’t know about isolated CSS. I’m always amazed when the speaker has a good understanding of the solution limitations and does not try to sell a silver bullet for you.

Architect’s Guide to Frontend Frameworks

The same disclaimer about being in a bunker goes here. It looks like frontend stage is getting up to speed and starts incorporating and evolving very interesting architectural patterns introduced by Angular/React/AngularV2/Redux. Things became way more clear for me after the talk.

Stress Driven Development, and How to Avoid It

I really appreciate the fact that our industry is starting to think of people too rather than concentrating on technologies only. And presentation from Dmitry was exactly about how to make you as a human happier. Interestingly I came to similar conclusions myself with slight variations. Was glad to see that I’m far from being alone in this journey. What also makes me happy is that the talk itself evolves, slides change over time along with Dmitry vision.
It was also the first time I’ve heard of the 16/8 fasting model. Doing lots of food experimentation already. Will definitely try it out.

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Tuesday

The Survival Guide to Modern Apps AuthN and AuthZ specs

This one served me as a really valuable source of categorized and processed information. I was finally able to match all of these crazy abbreviations in my head. It was even more interesting since we’re considering bringing Keycloack in.

Talk to me nicely – how to communicate your ideas and speed up your career.

It is always good to see when engineers start thinking not only technologies but also about people around them. Lots of us lack good communication skills and soft skills in general. Despite the fact that we’re social animals at the end of the day and that being in a society is one of our base needs. The title of the talk is slightly misleading to my taste. I would say it’s mostly about being a human at the workplace. Ideas formulated in the talk are well-worth revisiting.

Yeah, not too much for the whole day. But maybe I’ve chosen the wrong talks.

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Wednesday

7 Deadlier Sins of Craftsmanship

This was an outstanding talk at least due to its format. It’s hard to say how much hours it took to make it that cool. It was the first time I saw Cheerleader effect bias or heard the name of the IKEA effect bias. So this talk is a sort of journey through biases. It’s really good to stop sometimes and ask yourself: “Am I doing this right?”

Resilient service-to-service calls in a post-Hystrix world

This talk was the last one I decided to visit. And it was the best talk out of all I’ve seen during the whole Devoxx PL. You can use slides as a checklist for analyzing your service reliability. This talk also discussed a possible migration path from Hystrix. Bravo, @Rareş. No other talk introduced that much discussion in our team. No other talk has put that much real items in my to-do list. I think talks like these are the best way to show really good engineering culture within the company and to attract smart engineers. Just incredibly happy for one of my former colleagues who has left for N26 last year.

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Overall impression

Organization of the event itself was really cool  The quality of the talks varied to a great extent. I really enjoyed some of these, mostly architectural, cultural and practical ones. While lots of talks were not that interesting. From the other side, it was a great pleasure to see that your current employer is in a pretty good shape related to really advanced practices you see at conferences. Sometimes it feels like practices within your team are even more mature and advanced.

Almost all of my goals for the conference were achieved. I’m definitely far from being an early adaptor and still is pretty skeptical about the movements of serverless and micro-frameworks. And things didn’t really change after this conference. At the end of the day, it’s just another tool which might suit your needs or might not.

Still, it was definitely a worth-while time to be spent.

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